Thursday, 26 May 2016

Beskidy Trophy - Gone in 60 seconds

The race

Beskidy Trophy is a four day stage race in the Polish Beskidy mountains.

Important stats:

  • 4 stages
  • 286.5km
  • 11550 meters altitude gain

It's a tough and technical race. The climbs are gruesome and the descents are difficult and often dangerous. If you don't go downhill quickly you lose whatever time you gained uphill.

I took part in the race last year, 2015, and placed ninth. This year I had higher hopes...

You can check out the description of each stage below (which I wrote as I completed it) or you can scroll down to the bottom and read the summary.

The setup

Bike: BMC Fourstroke FS01 XX1
Groupset: SRAM XX1, 10-42, 32T chainring AbsoluteBlack oval
Wheels: Bontrager XXX
Tires: Schwalbe RocketRon 2.1 Snakeskin (1.6 bar, front and back). Tubeless.
Other equipment: Minpump, minitool, CO2-inflator + two canisters, tire levers, spare tube

Stage 1

67km, 2604m altitude gain



It had been raining all night and morning. The temperature was around 10-12 degrees Celsius. So the trails were going to be wet and muddy and the stones slippery. This being a race with so much downhill riding means that tricky descents become even trickier.

The climbs went well. I probably pushed it a bit too much but legs and lungs felt good. The descents not quite as well: I was getting passed a lot. And by the same riders that I then overtook in the next climb.

I got braver descending as the stage progressed and still managed to finish it without incident.

It was very foggy in most places and one of the scary things was going full speed in the downhills while hikers were going uphill and suddenly appearing through the mist.  It was weird riding slalom between them and having them jump for cover.

I came in fourth place in the M40 category. One minute behind third place, two minutes behind second and about 5 minutes behind first. 27th overall. The good thing is that I move up to the first group for tomorrow's start.

I'm just a bit (quite a lot actually) worried that I went too hard today. I'll notice tomorrow.

Results are here:
http://www.pomiaryczasu.pl/data/2016_Trophy/Live/Classic_1stage_live.html

Here's a photo of Sandra and me after the stage finish. Don't be fooled by the seemingly nice weather in the photo; The sun didn't come out until after we had finished the stage.

Strava stats show a heart rate that's a bit higher than I would've wanted it to be

I couldn't find a photo of me but here's one for today's stage that gives you a feeling of how foggy it was:

More photos from today's stage here

Starting grid (shot from second group):

Stage 2

84km, 2775m altitude gain


Complete turnaround in the weather meant sunshine and 25 degrees Celsius. Today's stage is the longest and hardest of all four. As you can see by the profile below theres' a huge hill to climb in the middle of the stage

We started the stage with a transport section to the first climb. I had in advance decided that I needed to be a bit defensive and calculating during this stage. I went out HARD yesterday and didn't want to die halfway through today's stage. This meant that in the climbs I held my own pace. In practice this had the result of letting people get away from me early in the climbs and then often catching them halfway through or towards the top. I felt the strategy worked out well.

I felt that the downhills went better than yesterday. I was still losing places in the super technical ones, but in the faster and more sane ones I held my own.

The climbs went well. I remember that last year I had to get off in a few places in the super steep uphills where I was able to cycle today. The five kilo weight loss really is noticable.

Halfway through the stage I had my first crash. I was approaching a creek rather quickly, perhaps at 30km/h, and from what I could see I thought that I would be able to just splash through it. However, when I got really close I noticed that there was a wooden board going diagonally across it. Too late to brake my front wheel slipped on it and my bike went flying one way while I flew the other. Bike was ok and so was I and I was able to get on and continue.

I crossed the finish line in fourth place. So same position as yesterday. I was very pleasantly surprised as I thought I was going to have a hard day. However, in the general classification I was in 44th (compared to 27th yesterday) so things have gone a bit slower today.

The fun part is having Strava to compare this year's segments to last year's. The stage was identical this year and in total I was 18 minutes faster. The big climb went 4 minutes faster. And all downhills sections between 30s and 60s faster. This actually makes me more happy than going faster uphill :)

In the general classification I'm now in fifth place.

This is how the bike looks after a 'dry' stage:

Notice the average heart rate. Compare it to stage 1 above. This is how you pay during multi-stage races

Stage 3

69.2km, 2534m altitude gain

Fourth place in today's stage (again! three times in a row now!).

I climbed back up to fourth place in the total classification. With one stage to go I'm three minutes behind third place and five minutes down on second place. And that after a total of 13 hours of biking! Exciting!

Tomorrow is a real killer of a stage too with the most amount of climbing of any stage yet!




Stage 4 (last one)

71.3km, 2910m altitude gain
So, how did it all go? What happened during the fourth and last stage?

Well, since its Tuesday today and the race finished Sunday you probably figured out that it didn't end with me climbing the podium, right?

So the short answer is: I came in fifth in the last stage and finished in fourth place in the total standings.

The slightly longer answer is: I came in fifth in the last stage, I overtook the guy who was in second place in the total standings, but the guy behind me, in fifth place, overtook me in the totals. By how much? Exactly 60 seconds. Yeah, I missed a podium finish, a third place, by exactly 60 seconds. This is after 18 hours of total riding during four days. Pretty depressing, huh? So that's why there was no update since Sunday.

Here's a link to the final result sheet


Conclusion

  • Fourth place in the M40 category. 
    • With about 150 starters from some 17 countries it's a good result
    • BUT the fact that I was only 60 seconds away from third place really hurts 
    • 4 minutes away from second place
  • Equipment worked perfectly with zero defects
    • The BMC Fourstroke was great in the difficult terrain. 
    • The 32T chainring was sufficient to climb the steep hills.
    • The Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.1 SnakeSkin were light enough to climb quickly, roll easy and MOST IMPORTANTLY: NO PUNCTURES.
  • I need to descend quicker
    • I lost time descending. There's no denying it. It's easy to compare to the riders that were around me on each climb: I went past them while going uphill, and many of them overtook me going downhill. I can improve my descending skills. But going quicker downhill also means taking more risks.



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